Our 10 memorable moments from the postseason
Can it really be over already?
It seems like we were just wondering what Alexander Ovechkin's first playoff run was going to be like and how Carey Price would fare under the glare of the playoff spotlight and which team might be this year's dark horse.
And now, it's over. Here's a look at our 10 memorable moments from this postseason.
• Niklas Kronwall's crushing -- and clean -- open-ice hit on Pittsburgh's Ryan Malone near the Pittsburgh blue line early in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. The hit broke Malone's nose for the third time in his career and announced the arrival of Kronwall in the finals as a player to be reckoned with on both sides of the puck.
• Evgeni Malkin's short-handed slap-shot goal against Philadelphia in the opening game of the Eastern Conference finals. The goal came after a frenzied sequence with great scoring chances and big hits. Malkin had been put down in the Flyers zone, but as he was coming back into the play, the Flyers turned the puck over and Sergei Gonchar hit a weary Malkin with a breakaway pass. Malkin said later he was thinking about how poorly he'd performed on shootouts in the regular season, so he just blasted away. The Penguins went on to win Game 1 4-2.
• Nicklas Lidstrom's long, wacky, bouncing goal on Dan Ellis of the Nashville Predators in the second period of Game 6 in the opening round of the playoffs. The Preds trailed the series 3-2 and the pivotal sixth game was scoreless at the time of the goal -- a short-handed marker that started out as a clearing attempt and ended up being the series-clinching goal. Nonetheless, Ellis turned in a wonderful performance, and the Preds may have found a replacement for the departed Tomas Vokoun.
• Sean Avery's strange puppet-boy dance in front of Devils goalie Martin Brodeur in the first round. As usual, the New York Rangers forward found a way to cross the line when he was trying to screen and/or distract Brodeur. The NHL stepped in to rewrite its rulebook in the middle of the playoffs, introducing what we like to call "The Nitwit Rule," which makes such behavior punishable by a minor penalty. As a postscript, the NHL Players' Association has filed a grievance regarding the rule, saying such changes need to pass through normal channels, such as the competition committee, which includes a number of players.
• Brenden Morrow's quadruple-overtime winner in Game 6 of the second round over San Jose. The Stars' captain established himself as one of the prototypical leaders throughout the playoffs, and his deflection on the power play ended the Sharks' hopes of becoming the third team ever to return from a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 7.
• Alexander Ovechkin's steal of the puck from Philadelphia defenseman Lasse Kukkonen and subsequent game-winning goal late in Game 1 of the Washington-Philadelphia first-round series. It was Ovechkin's first NHL playoff game, and he finished it with a flourish.
• Ovechkin failing to shoot on a great chance from the slot late in the third period of Game 7 of the Caps' first-round loss to Philadelphia. He instead slid a pass to Sergei Fedorov, who was alone at the side of the net. But Fedorov wasn't looking for the pass, and Philadelphia forward Joffrey Lupul would later score the series-clinching goal in overtime on the power play.
• Evgeni Nabokov's sliding glove save early in the first overtime of Game 6 of the San Jose Sharks-Dallas Stars Western Conference semifinals series. Although the Sharks would later lose on Morrow's goal in quadruple overtime, Nabokov's save was one for the ages. The puck was so close to going in the net, the save had to be confirmed by video review. But the call was a good one, as was the save.
• Jose Theodore's otherworldly performance against favored Minnesota in the first round, when he stopped 188 of 210 shots he faced in six games against the Wild. The Colorado goaltender then went on to become utterly mortal against Detroit, allowing 15 goals on just 86 shots. Go figure.
• Speaking of goaltenders ... all that fretting about whether rookie Carey Price could handle the load in Montreal seemed moot when he starred early in the first round against Boston. But the cracks that appeared in Price's game late in that seven-game series ruptured completely in the second round against Philadelphia: Price allowed 15 goals on 104 shots, was lifted in one game and sat out another in favor of fellow rookie Jaroslav Halak. Even though the Habs outplayed the Flyers for long stretches, they were done in five games.
Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.